California Wild Rose (Rosa californica)

September 2017

California wild roseCalifornia wild rose (Rosa californica) is a deciduous shrub that can be found along riparian (close to streams) areas below 6,000 feet of elevation. Its not-very-showy flowers are pale lavender or pink, and have only 5 petals, unlike the multi-petaled multi-colored cultivars. The flowers appear from May to November and attract many different kinds of pollinator insects, which makes the wild rose a good hedgerow or wildlife corridor plant. The plant grows in thickets and provides great habitat for birds and other animals.

The rose hips, when fully mature, can be eaten raw, or can be dried and steeped to make a tasty winter tea that is high in vitamin C. The petals of the flower are also edible. Try adding them to salads! Early Californians also used wild rose stems in basketry.

California wild rose is an excellent restoration plant where there is ample water. Because of the prickly stems and tendency to form thickets over time, thewild rose makes a good screen or barrier plant. It is carefree, pretty, and tolerates alkali soils, which are common throughout the central valley and California foothills. Wild rose is easy to propagate. It can be grown from seed, or the rhizomes (roots) of the rose can be dug up and transplanted. Wild rose is also an excellent addition to home gardens where it has enough space. It can be an effective screen or barrier plant, it attracts pollinators, which benefits other plants in your garden, and is a great source of rose hips. To your health!